(Belated) ARC Review – Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton (Take Two!)

I know I wrote a “review” for this one back in February, but I wasn’t done yet, and this book was so good and so beautiful that I wanted to be sure to review it in full. I’ve already recommended it to multiple people, and it was Reese Witherspoon’s book club pick this month, so you have to know it’s good! I’m DYING to get my hands on the sequel, and I hope I get the chance to review that one as well! So, let’s dive back in!

In Next Year in Havana, readers get two parallel storylines – one in 1958, when revolutionaries drive Batista from Cuba and Castro takes over, where Elisa Perez, daughter of a sugar baron, embarks on a dangerous, passionate affair; and one in 2017, when the travel embargo is loosened, and Marisol Ferrera seeks to return her grandmother Elisa’s ashes to the place of her birth. Both women tell stories of finding themselves, of love, and of the beauty and mystery of the island nation that will always call them home. And Marisol, in particular, is finding not only herself, but her Cuban heritage, Havana, and her grandmother all at the same time.

Next Year in Havana

3 Things I Loved

  1. Havana. Needless to say, I’ve never been to Cuba, but I’d love to go. And this book made me want to make that trip even more than I already did! Now that I’m living in the Caribbean, it would be so easy to island hop over there. Maybe the travel will get easier before I leave…
  2. Marisol. I really connected with Marisol. I could relate to feeling connected to a culture, and yet being removed enough from it that it’s not considered yours. Experiencing her visit to Havana was like looking through a window into my own soul. And then! I got to go on the adventure with her as she discovered what took place between her grandmother and her love back before they left Cuba.
  3. The mysterious men. I love my book heroes grumpy, as you know. Neither Pablo nor Luis are particularly grumpy, but they are dark and mysterious, and that is a close second for me. Watching their stories play out was just as interesting to me as reading about the women.

Dislikes/Problematic Content

I loved this window into Cuban and Cuban-American culture, which is something I know very little about. My only real complaint is that everyone is heterosexual and everybody’s falling in love. It worked in the story, I’m just not sure how realistic it is. When I go on trips, I don’t tend to get with a person within the first week. But, like I said, it worked for the story, so it’s all good in the end.


A reminder of the rating scale:

  • Red = DNF, I hated everything
  • Orange = Ugh, no thank you
  • Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
  • Green = This was good! 
  • Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
  • Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!

As a regular reader of YA, this book felt long to me, but that was truly my only complaint about it – I loved everything else. The story was lyrical and beautiful and it made me feel all achy inside when I was done. I’ve been recommending it to people left and right and I am in love with the world that Cleeton created. I can’t wait for the sequel. Goodness, when are the ARCs of that coming out?? I’ll be reviewing that one on this blog too, ojalá. In any case, I’m giving Next Year in Havana a BLUE rating. It’s so so good. Don’t sleep on this one!

Thank you to the author for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I’m so happy I read it, because I would have missed this book entirely had the author/author’s publicist not reached out to me. And now I’m here to shout about it from the rooftops! Although the fact that I got an advanced copy did not affect my feelings about this book at all – it’s just really good. ❤

Happy reading!

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